About the Zoning Board of Appeals

The Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) as a quasi-judicial body charged under the provisions of Chapter 40A of the Massachusetts General Laws. The ZBA is the Special Permit Granting Authority for:

  • Variances
  • Special Permit Applications, including Special Permits with Design Review and Special Permits with Site Plan Review
  • Appeals by aggrieved parties of administrative or enforcement decisions
  • Comprehensive Permit Petitions (MGL Chapter 40B)


  • Notes for Applicants

  • Board Members

  • Reports & Decisions

Development Review Standards:

  • Please be advised that, per the standards set out in Article 15 of the Somerville Zoning Ordinance, a development review application is not complete until all required community and Design Review meetings have been held, all necessary information has been submitted, and all fees have been paid. Incomplete applications will not be reviewed, will not be publicly noticed, and will not be scheduled for a public hearing.
  • Planning staff will work with applicants to discuss meeting dates and review application materials.
  • Applications for large projects may require a longer review period and evaluation by multiple City departments before being deemed complete and scheduled for a public hearing.
  • Planning staff reserves the right to ask for additional information or to change meeting dates.

Orsola Susan Fontano, Chair

Orsola Susan Fontano is a member of the Zoning Board of Appeals and also volunteers with the Elections Department, the Council of Aging, and the Art's Council. Some of her past affiliations include the Historic Preservation Commission, member of the award-winning Somerville All-American City delegation, and founding president of East Somerville Main Streets. She is self-employed, operating Up, Up & Away balloons since 1981 and managing her sister business Nefertiti Hair Salon since 1977.

Danielle Fillis Evans, Clerk

Danielle Fillis Evans holds a master’s degree in Urban and Environmental policy and planning from Tufts University and is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners and has served on the ZBA since 2008. She has worked as a planner in several municipalities in Massachusetts and currently manages the Community Preservation Act program for the City of Medford.

Elaine Severino

Elaine Severino is a former educator and small business owner. She spent 5 years serving on the Zoning Task Force Committee that rewrote the previous Somerville Zoning laws and has served in the Zoning Board of Appeals for over 15 years. She is also a member of the Somerville Garden Club and dedicated to helping create better green spaces in Somerville.

Josh Safdie

Josh Safdie, AIA, NCARB, is a Principal at KMA, an architecture and consulting practice. He serves as the co-chair of the Access Committee for the Boston Society of Architects and has received awards from the Massachusetts Architectural Access Board and the Boston Preservation Alliance for projects merging preservation and accessibility. He is also an Associate Professor at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design and a contributor to Architecture Boston magazine.

Drew Kane, Alternate

Drew is currently the Senior Land Use Planner with the City of Cambridge Community Development Department. Prior to the City of Cambridge, he spent 15 years as a consultant in architecture and planning firms in Atlanta, New York and Boston. Most recently, he was a Senior Urban Planner and Associate at Utile, Inc., a multi-disciplinary architecture and planning firm in Boston.. 

With a professional focus on the regeneration of urban environments, Drew's areas of expertise includes streetscape and public realm design, master planning and regulatory development with particular interest in waterfronts and industrial districts. 

Drew received a Master of City and Regional Planning from the Georgia Institute of Technology and a Bachelor’s of Art in Art History from the University of Georgia.

Reports and Decisions

PLEASE NOTE: Applications made before April 15, 2011 are not included in this listing and can be found by clicking here.

Street Number Case Numbersort ascending First Hearing Date Decisions Other Reports Updated date
Middlesex Ave (PUD) 5 PB2018-07 May 15, 2018 PDF icon Decision PDF icon cover letter
PDF icon executive summary
PDF icon application & waivers
PDF icon zoning compliance
PDF icon transportation
PDF icon utility analysis
PDF icon site access diagrams
PDF icon shadow study
PDF icon project summary
PDF icon civil plans
PDF icon design guidelines
PDF icon Revised TOC
PDF icon Revised Application
PDF icon Revised Transportation
PDF icon Revised Civil Plans
PDF icon Revised Design Guildelines
PDF icon Revised Site Access Diagrams
PDF icon Revised Shadow Study
PDF icon Revised Transportation Access Plan
PDF icon Revised Mobility Management Plan
PDF icon Revised Executive Summary
PDF icon Revised Zoning Compliance
PDF icon Revised Project Summary
PDF icon Presentation: May 9 DRC
PDF icon Revised Utility Analysis
PDF icon Preliminary Staff Report - prior to testimony
PDF icon Revised Staff Report - text only
PDF icon Revised Staff Report - Findings & Conditions
08/02/2018 - 6:33pm
Earle Street - revision 2 PB2018-04-R1-1018 Dec 13, 2018 PDF icon Decision PDF icon previous decision
PDF icon site plan
PDF icon drawing set
PDF icon civil & landscape
PDF icon shadow analysis
PDF icon LEED scorecard
PDF icon transportation access
PDF icon mobility management
PDF icon project narrative
PDF icon staff report 12/26/2018 - 11:13am
McGrath Highway 845 PB2017-27-EXT1 Mar 26, 2020 PDF icon Decision 04/07/2020 - 9:29am
Dawes Street (Cambridge Crossing/NorthPoint Parcel EF) 250 PB2017-23-MA1-0818 Nov 08, 2018 PDF icon Decision PDF icon plan set PDF icon staff report 11/26/2018 - 3:57pm
Assembly Row 500 (Block 8) PB2017-06 Apr 06, 2017 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Index & Executive Summary
PDF icon Zoning, Transportation, & Shadow Study
PDF icon Architectural Drawings
PDF icon Staff Report
PDF icon Staff Update Memo
PDF icon FRIT Memo
08/03/2018 - 11:24am
Grand Union Boulevard Block 5B PB2017-05-R1-0818 Oct 04, 2018 PDF icon Decision PDF icon plan set
PDF icon revised site plan
PDF icon staff report 11/01/2018 - 6:29pm
Assembly Square - Grand Union Boulevard 500 (Block 5B) PB2017-05 Apr 06, 2017 PDF icon ASQ Block 5B (Combined).pdf PDF icon Architectural Drawings
PDF icon Shadow Study
PDF icon Index & Executive Summary
08/06/2018 - 11:49am
Broadway 118-120 PB2016-16 Oct 06, 2016 PDF icon Decision PDF icon drawing set PDF icon Staff Report 08/07/2018 - 8:51am
Assembly Row Line Park Building B PB2016-14-R1-11/17 Jan 30, 2018 PDF icon Decision PDF icon Elevations & proposed screening PDF icon Staff Report 08/07/2018 - 8:56am
Assembly Row 400-499 PB2014-34-R4 (9/2017) Dec 14, 2017 PDF icon Decision PDF icon staff report 08/07/2018 - 8:58am
Assembly Row Public Assembly Use - Assembly Sq Dr 201 PB2013-12 Jun 06, 2013 PDF icon AssemblySq201Combined.pdf PDF icon Plans - Site / Floor
PDF icon Plans - Tent 1 of 2
PDF icon Plans - Tent 2 of 2
PDF icon Staff Report 06/25/2014 - 2:13pm
Broadway 79-83 PB2010-05 05/20/2010 - 7:10am
Medford St 39R PB2010-02 05/20/2010 - 7:10am
Mystic Ave 29 PB2010-01 05/20/2010 - 7:10am
Benton Rd 1 PB2009-17 05/20/2010 - 7:10am


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